In some cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), cancerous versions of white blood cells known as plasma B cells proliferate, crowding out normal cells. Healthy plasma cells secrete proteins called immunoglobulins – also known as Ig or antibodies – that recognize and destroy specific viruses and other threats. However, cancerous plasma B cells secrete ineffective antibodies that do not provide protection. Allogeneic stem cell transplant and other treatments for leukemia can further reduce the number of healthy plasma cells, lowering antibody levels and leaving the immune system weakened and open to infections.
If antibody levels become too low, doctors sometimes recommend that people with leukemia receive intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) to bolster their immune system and help protect them from infection.
IVIG is produced by pooling antibodies from thousands of blood donors. The antibodies are purified and sterilized to prevent the transmission of any infection.
What does it involve?
IVIG is administered via intravenous infusion in a medical setting. IVIG treatment is commonly given once a month while antibody levels are low. Antibody levels may rise with effective leukemia treatment or recovery from chemotherapy or stem cell transplant. As Ig levels rise, you may need IVIG less frequently.
The goal of IVIG is to protect people with weakened immune systems from infection.
Studies indicate that IVIG helps reduce the number of bacterial infections in people with CLL.
During or immediately after IVIG, some people experience headache, fatigue, fever, chills, muscle or joint aches, nausea, vomiting, or allergic reactions.
Other side effects may occur a day or so after receiving IVIG. Later effects can include kidney problems, blood clots, and rashes.
Although antibodies are purified and sterilized before packaging for IVIG, there is always a very small chance that they may contain an infectious agent.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Patient education: Intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) (Beyond the Basics) – UpToDate https://www.uptodate.com/contents/intravenous-i...
Preparing for Intravenous Immunoglobunlin (IVIG) Infusion – American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments...
Immunoglobulin therapy in hematologic neoplasms and after hematopoietic cell transplantation – Blood Reviews
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